U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill are teaming up on legislation to bring the historic 1920’s riverboat Delta Queen back to the Mississippi River. The Senators’ legislation would reinstate a decades-long exemption to allow the boat to operate from its new home port of Kimmswick, in Jefferson County—creating more than 100 jobs and bringing in millions in economic growth and tourism revenue.
Blunt and McCaskill, who serve as senior members of the Commerce Committee, helped shepherd the bill—introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio)—to committee passage today. The legislation now heads to the full Senate for approval.
“The Delta Queen is a national treasure, and I’m proud that it has found a home port in Kimmswick, MO,” said Blunt. “Today, we took an important step toward getting the Delta Queen back in full operation, and allowing more Americans to experience a taste of history along the Mississippi. I hope all of my colleagues will support the bill when it comes before the Senate.”
McCaskill continued, “This bill will allow the Delta Queen to serve as far more than an historic landmark and tourist attraction—it’ll be a real boon to jobs and economic expansion in Jefferson County. We’re one step closer to making that expansion a reality here in the St. Louis region, and for tourists in ports up and down the river that’ll soon be able to experience the long and rich history of this steamboat.”
According to the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, the St. Louis region will experience a significant economic impact from the Delta Queen, creating more than 170 jobs locally and bringing in more than $36.4 million to the St. Louis region annually. It is expected that the Delta Queen will begin and end a number of its cruises each year in Kimmswick and will visit more than 80 other ports in the United States.
Built in the 1920s, the Delta Queen is an historic, wooden American steamboat. The Delta Queen carried dignitaries (including three U.S. Presidents) and thousands of other passengers through the tributaries of the Mississippi River. The boat served as a naval ship during World War II, and is now designated as a United States National Historic Landmark.
Beginning in 1966, the Delta Queen was exempted from a law passed by Congress regulating passenger vessels carrying 50 or more passengers overnight on domestic U.S. waters. That exemption expired in 2008. This legislation would restore the long-running exemption and require the Delta Queen, which is fully compliant with all other Coast Guard safety regulations, to annually modify at least 10 percent of the wooden portions of the vessel’s superstructure to comply with the federal safety law requirements.